(Download the PDF from the link above)
Draft Scope for Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement on the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Regulatory Program
Well Permit Issuance for Horizontal Drilling and High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing to Develop the Marcellus Shale and Other Low-Permeability Gas Reservoirs
Draft Scope (PDF, 404 KB)
The Department is accepting written comments on this draft scope through the close of business on December 15, 2008. A schedule of public meetings in the Southern Tier and Catskills to receive verbal comments will be announced shortly.
Submit comments to: Attn: Scope Comments, Bureau of Oil & Gas Regulation, NYSDEC Division of Mineral Resources, 625 Broadway – Third Floor, Albany, NY 12233-6500
or email to: firstname.lastname@example.org with “Scope Comments” as the Subject
The Department of Environmental Conservation is responsible for regulating the development and production of oil and gas resources in New York State. Natural gas exploration and production companies, and mineral rights owners, are interested in developing a potentially significant gas resource in the Marcellus Shale through the use of horizontal drilling and a hydraulic fracturing technique known as “slick water fracturing.” This technique requires large volumes of water. The Department has identified the action of well permit issuance when high-volume hydraulic fracturing is proposed as one which requires further review under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (“SEQRA”). This draft scope and the public meetings where it will be discussed are the first steps in that process.
The Department evaluated its oil and gas regulatory program through development of a Generic Environmental Impact Statement (“GEIS”) which was finalized in 1992 and which sets parameters that are applicable statewide for SEQRA review of gas well permitting. This draft scope describes the topics related to well permit issuance for high-volume hydraulic fracturing that the Department has identified for review in a draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (“dSGEIS”). Written and verbal comments from all interested parties will be considered in the preparation of a Final Scope, and then the dSGEIS will be released for additional public review and comment. The final SGEIS, to be prepared after consideration of comments received on the draft, will set additional parameters for SEQRA review. The Department will then issue well permits for gas well development using high-volume hydraulic fracturing in accordance with both the GEIS and the SGEIS.
Aspects of high-volume hydraulic fracturing identified in this draft scope for further review include the potential impacts of (1) water withdrawals, (2) transportation of water to the site, (3) the use of additives in the water to enhance the hydraulic fracturing process, (4) space and facilities required at the well site to ensure proper handling of water and additives, and (5) removal of spent fracturing fluid from the well site and its ultimate disposition. Noise, visual and air quality considerations are noted, along with the potential for cumulative and community impacts. The well permitting process is described, and regulatory coordination with other jurisdictional agencies and local governments are also discussed.
Narrative background and context is included in this document solely for the purpose of assisting the reader in evaluating the draft scope, is based upon the Department’s experience implementing the GEIS and regulating oil and gas drilling in New York State, and is for reference only. Nothing contained in this draft scope is intended, nor should it be construed, as stating a position with respect to any matters that will ultimately be addressed in the SGEIS. In order to avoid duplication, and to ensure that the SGEIS serves to complement the GEIS, interested persons are urged to carefully review the GEIS in connection with the preparation of any comments. Note that the GEIS also includes a glossary of technical terms.